Poor leopard! (and our parliamentarians)

Island Editorial

Parliament was flooded with tears the other day. Having feasted on huge chunks of mutton, chicken and fish, our politicians wept buckets for an unfortunate leopard which had been beaten to death in Kilinochchi. Scandalised, they threw up their arms in despair, condemning the cruel fate that had befallen the poor animal; they called for legal action against the heartless bipeds responsible for the savage act.

We do not ask the kapati-suit fraternity whether the suffering of the goats, the pigs, the chickens and the fish they wolf down gleefully is any different from that of the leopard they are shedding copious tears for. Pigs are beaten until they swell and left to die, groaning, so as to enhance the ‘taste’ of their flesh. Chickens are plucked even before they are dead. Many cattle are skinned while they are still in death throes. The same goes for goats. Fish die a painful death, unable to breath, out of water, or with hooks stuck in their throats. Why don’t our self-righteous politicians cry for those hapless beings as well and stop devouring their carcasses?

We appreciate our MPs’ concern for the poor leopard which suffered cruelty in the former heartland of the Tigers, of all places. That incident must be condemned by one and all and the culprits brought to justice forthwith.

We, however, cannot help asking ourselves why the people of Kilinochchi, who killed the leopard for mauling several persons, did not react aggressively when the two-legged Tigers abducted their children, extorted money from them, suppressed their democratic rights and physically eliminated dissenters. Father Harry Miller, an American Jesuit priest, who spoke up for the people in the LTTE-held areas, perturbed by the child abductions once told CNN, “It is like an ogre that descends from the hills once in a while and takes children away.” While the Tigers were around, many parents, in the North and the East, stopped sending their precious children to school, fearing that they might be abducted and turned into cannon fodder. The people of Kilinochchi never so much as uttered a whimper in protest against the Tiger atrocities. Today, they go on leopard hunts!

Among those who condemned the killing of the leopard were JVP and UNP MPs. While watching them shed tears for the unfortunate feline, we remembered how the Rathu Sahodarayas gunned down civilians in their hundreds in the late 1980s. Some of those who had the courage to stand up to the southern terrorists were beaten or shot in front of their family members and burnt alive. Voters who were bold enough to exercise their franchise in defiance of JVP orders to boycott polls were knifed or shot. JVP sparrow units descended on some voters and slashed their mouths or severed their hands before putting them to death in the most barbaric manner. The JVP leaders who have not tendered a public apology for their party’s atrocities against civilians are now championing animal rights!

In July 1983, pro-UNP thugs did to scores of Tamil civilians, on the streets of Colombo, what the people of Kilinochchi did to the poor leopard the other day. Tamil inmates were slaughtered inside maximum security prisons. Today, the UNPers including those who were ministers of the governments of J. R. Jayewardene and Ranasinghe Premadasa, responsible for murdering young men and women in their thousands in the late 1980s and running torture chambers, are weeping for a leopard.

Whether the Joint Opposition worthies and the TNA joined the JVP and the UNP in condemning the killers of the Kilinochchi leopard is not known, but they, too, have a history of either committing or condoning crimes against civilians. The JO members had no qualms about defending the last government which earned notoriety for white van abductions and numerous extrajudicial killings. They shielded the perpetrators of violence against the Muslims in Aluthgama in 2014. The TNA was at the beck and call of the Tigers responsible for crimes against civilians and functioned as their mouthpiece in Parliament.

The poor leopard is lucky that it is not alive to see some wily politicians pretend to be humane by shedding tears for it. We have reason to believe that if the unfortunate animal had escaped his pursuers in Kilinochchi, it would have taken its own life by jumping into a well, on seeing a bunch of hypocrites gain political mileage by taking up cudgels for it. Poor leopard!

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